How do you describe awakening of the purest form? Heart-opening to the greatest degree? Other women in my life who had passed through the gates of motherhood described giving birth in this way to me, and rarely – if at all – during my labor did I feel this way. And yet, looking back in a reflective state, this is the only way I can begin to wrap words around such a powerful experience. Why in the moment did it seem so simple, when looking back it is a complex storm of emotion and spirit and God? Maybe it felt simple and un-layered because it was so close to God, and the Creator is divine in her grace – not in her “mind”. Maybe I was present to a degree that did not allow for any reflection or labeling my experience.
Regardless, I sit today with a 3-week-old love and simultaneously a life’s worth of emotion around such an event, and I have come here to tell my story.
When asked about my labor, I am forced to ask “which one?”. For I walked a treacherous path of laboring for weeks before my body actually began contracting. I labored through deep emotional wounding surrounding my family – specifically the Mother Wound. I yelled and cried, and I was yelled at and cried at. I was hurt and broken down and abandoned and in my weakest moment with heavy bones and empty eyes I looked within to see a child begging for love. I gave her all the love I could muster up and told her I’d always care for her, for I am her mother. I looked at my inner-child, of whom I mothered and fathered on my own, and told her she was safe. I closed my eyes submerged in hot water and surrounded by crystals and repeated out loud “I love you baby. I love you baby Nya. You are safe. I’ve got you. I’ve got you”. I did not carry only one child. I carried also my own child-self who had not been held for many years. I nursed her back to health when I felt I had nothing left to offer and no one to pull an offering from, in the weeks leading up to the birth of my child.
On February 13th I sat in the shower and allowed a waterfall of tears to release from my body and run down the drain. I cried for the losses of past loves and lives. I cried for my family and the distance between us. I cried for my home of Hawai’i and the pain in her roots through generations of native suffering. I cried for death, and for life. I cried in pride for how much I’ve grown and in grief for the child that I have had to grow out of. In that state of complete emotional vulnerability with the universe, I received flashing third-eye visions of women, naked and heads tilted back, howling as if at the moon. Tribal women, young and old, of all races and cultures, giving birth before my eyes, moaning and yelling with voices of God. The images ceased and my tears were dried.
That evening as I walked up the stairs to my bed, I heard the Blue and Black Cohosh plants speaking to me. They said sternly, “She will come tonight if you want her to”. Am I ready? Do I want her to come tonight? I did not have a clear answer. I enjoyed a last-night of sleep next to my partner with our dogs in the bed and our child in my womb, kicking and stretching.
The next morning I woke at 5am and told my love on Valentines Day to have a good day at work, and said to him “I don’t think she will come today, it’s okay”. I continued praying with and taking the Blue and Black Cohosh for a few hours. Around 7:30am, I noticed surges of tightness growing around my womb. They were not painful, but they grew in strength and began to come alive even without the plant medicine to instigate them. At about 9am, I felt the first genuine pain of physical labor. I had a contraction with pain – and I was joyful. I hoped desperately that I would continue to have more like it, and that I would not need to continue taking the plant medicine for induction. I leaned over the arm of the couch and texted Isaac about how our mornings have been, and noticed the contraction lasting longer than I expected. The pain was similar to a mild period cramp – very bearable and familiar. I stood to walk from the couch to the bathroom, and then it happened.
My water broke. I could not have been more excited! I smiled big as the gush of fluid poured out of me and onto the floor, creating a path all the way to the restroom. I must have walked back and forth between the toilet and the couch four times thinking it was done before I finally just stood naked in the shower, accepting and encouraging the flow. I still doubted if I was in labor, because the contractions were so simple… so understandable and easy. I texted my love (from the shower) to tell him the exciting news and let him know that he wouldn’t need to come home from work early. He was scheduled to work from 7am-7pm that day at Bar Harbor Hospital, and I did not think I would progress to very active labor until late at night. Nothing in my intellectual mind knew that I’d be giving birth in 12 hours, holding my little one in my arms by 10pm.
Isaac’s mother and grandmother came over and brought me scones. I ate a toad-in-a-hole and two scones and I remember them as the best tasting scones of my life. We drank tea and I sat in a rocking chair (a gift from Isaac’s stepmother and father), panties stuffed full of pads and toilet paper, and wearing my birthing necklace. The three of us chatted for about an hour, until 11:30am. I was having contractions every 10 minutes or so and talking through them easily. No one could see the dance that my womb was doing at the time.
The time between the visit with Isaac’s family, and when Isaac came home, was my special space. I played music, I ate, I sang, I danced, and I notified friends and family of the new world I was entering. I enjoyed preparing the space for my labor and each contraction excited me. Around 1pm I noticed more pain, and decided to sit in the shower as I had done the day before, water pouring on my back and native Hawaiian music opening my heart. I remember kneeling on all fours with the shower massaging my low-back and feeling heavenly. The slight presence of pain sent waves of pleasure through my spirit as I focused on the beautiful sensation of water. I texted Isaac from the shower and told him that my experience was becoming more intense. He told me he was going to come home, and I asked him “Are you sure?”. I still did not believe I was having a baby. He affirmed me and went to the grocery store on his way home. My sweet man, he spent the entire drive and grocery trip on the phone with me listening to my gentle moans and heavy breathing, trying to understand what I might possibly want for lunch from the store. I don’t remember what he got me, but I know that I described my nutritional needs as “something light, something sweet and light and cooling. But not a salad. I don’t know. Fruit maybe. Lots of fruit, and maybe some meat”. I took probably two bites of whatever he brought home. This was only the beginning of my journey in trying to understand what my intuition – what God – was speaking to me within that Labor Land. It was a laughable journey as my comprehension of the material world and my bodily wants decreased more and more with time. Isaac was patient and kind throughout.
I did not time my contractions until Isaac suggested that I write a log of them while he was driving home, and it was only then that I realized they were 2-3 minutes apart. He arrived home around 2pm and instantly began preparing the space. Isaac lit candles, cleaned up, burned incense and sage, and took care of the dogs (Our lab/mastiff Ruby, our plot hound Sadie, and our foxhound Riley. Riley was in the process of dying and had to be carried outside each day). I don’t remember much from this transition time, between 2:00 and 3:00pm. The house was busy and bright and Isaac and I laughed and joked in joy, in between contractions. I thought I would be in that space for 10-15 more hours, as so many women before me described overnight and multiple-day labors. Isaac turned on the television and the game console to play Star Wars Battlefront – a video game from the early 2000s that we found ourselves deeply enjoying during pregnancy for it’s simplicity and laughable moments. I asked in a disoriented stutter that we not play video games right now. Isaac didn’t seem to understand – we were having such a good time, why not do something we enjoy?
At this moment, the tide shifted. Isaac said “are you sure?” and I said “ah, let’s just play a few rounds”. As soon as the television and Xbox were on, my body sent a clear message – now is not the time for games. I was standing behind the couch and a powerful surge of energy and womb-contracting sent my arms over the back of the couch for support and I held on as the words stopped in my mouth. It seemed to last forever, and it hurt. I remember this moment vividly as the first “real” contraction. This is when our friends and family lit their candles across the world, all burning together for the safety and prayer of Aurelia and I. Isaac turned to me in confusion and I told him to call Rachael, our beloved midwife. Rachael on the phone asked Isaac if I really wanted her to come over now. Contractions flowing every 2 minutes, building in intensity with fire, I nodded.
Rachael arrived sometime around 3:30 or 3:45pm. I was sitting on my meditation pillow, leaning my chest over a yoga ball and letting it gently sway and roll from side to side. After the sudden firey message from the Universe that this was a serious endeavor, I found lightness and smiled through contractions once again. I remember making a few jokes between the surges of intensity and moving casually to different spots in the house. We started filling up the birth pool not long after this, and Rachael kept herself busy for the first few hours setting things up. At one point I looked over at our shelf full of pictures and mementos from my and Isaac’s individual lives and noticed a powerfully abundant collection of essential oils staged there, for Rachael’s use during my labor. This was the medicine, the true gifts from the earth that helped me along in labor. Essential oils were my only intervention during the entire process. At this time, we were playing Enya songs and I was closing my eyes often during the contractions. I spent time on my knees facing the couch covered in the softest and fluffiest white blanket, my elbows resting on the pillows. The dogs sat beside me and Ruby licked my feet. They seemed interested in this magical realm I was fading in and out of, but they kept their distance. Isaac started cooking in the kitchen and the smell of the food tantalized me, but all I wanted to eat was cereal. He brought me the smallest bowl of Special K I had ever seen and spoon-fed me a few bites. I could not finish it.
I got into the birth pool and labored there for a long time around sunset. I don’t remember seeing the sunset, but I remember opening my eyes at one point and seeing the world outside now dark. The christmas lights and candles were our only light. I could not stop moving, each contraction filled my mind and body with pain and I could not find a position that was comfortable. I flipped onto my hands and knees, I leaned against the back of the tub, I draped my head over the edge, nothing seemed to relieve me. I began to feel sick and asked for a bucket a few times but never did throw up. Rachael and Isaac tried to offer me water but I struggled to drink it. In the middle of my struggle, Rachael asked if we needed to change the music. At this point, we were listening primarily to ancient tribal birthing music full of intense drumming and chanting. We changed it to the Avett Brothers at her suggestion. She rubbed some oils on my head and neck. The sweet sounds of my favorite folk band touched my heart and softened me. I know that I got out of the tub and labored on the couch more, but I don’t remember much of it. At one point I looked at my midwife, feeling a taste of the hopelessness that so many women describe at the crux of their labors and asked “Do you know how much longer this might be?”. She asked in return, “How much longer can you handle?”. It was almost 6pm at the time. I said “Maybe 3 more hours”.
When I got back in the tub, the added a bucket of hot water and my entire body relaxed. I leaned against the walls of the tub and for 1-2 hours I entered a deep dream state. I could hear the peaceful music of my past, full of love and emotion. Isaac sat in a chair by the pool reading a book, Rachael observed. I remember being pulled into another reality, the spirit realm. I dreamt of memories and images of loved ones. I had wild fantasy dreams that don’t touch my conscious memory anymore. A part of my mind was still very human, still in the birth pool, still experiencing contractions. But the rest of me was sleeping, experiencing the dream world of the subconscious, messages from the birthing gods and goddesses. At one point, my eyes opened and I was brought back to the material land of labor. I felt the full intensity of a contraction and my vision fixated on 5 small canvas drawings made by powerful women from my life here in Maine, encouraging me to trust in my body during birth. The image of these drawings were hazy as my vision had not yet adapted, but the support and solidarity from these women allowed me to return to the dream world a bit longer.
The next time I opened my eyes, I heard a message from the spirit plants guiding me again – it is time to push. I didn’t know what this meant. At each contraction I allowed my body to bear down and felt the downward flow of energy, but I did not engage any muscles. I told Rachael that I felt like I was pushing. She asked if I wanted to get out of the tub. She and Isaac helped me out and as soon as I stood out of the water, I felt gravity pull Aurelia down and the contractions became unbearable. I fell to my hands and knees and draped over the couch once more, deeply moaning and sometimes yelling in agony. The pressure was building in all of my body, and Rachael reminded me not to fight what I was going through, to keep my moans low and slow, to soften. She performed the only vaginal exam through my entire labor and informed me that Aurelia’s head was low enough to push more. She instructed me on how to engage and flex my muscles to push and noticed that I was struggling to find the energy to. Rachael asked if I wanted to go to the toilet and labor there and I declined. I had told Isaac since the beginning of our pregnancy that I would NOT give birth in the bathroom. We had put great effort into beautifying the living room birthing space and filled it with so much positivity. Rachael gently reminded me that many women find it much easier to push while on the toilet, and we could return to the tub when Aurelia is actually coming. I agreed, and Isaac helped me walk to the bathroom. He carried almost 100% of my weight and we had to stop halfway there for a contraction. I knew that changing the environment was helping me, but I was still resistant to the space.
Isaac sat me down on the toilet and both he and Rachael left the room. I don’t remember what they were doing, but within seconds I felt Aurelia’s head with my hands at the bottom of my birth canal. I shouted “Isaac, she’s coming!” and he rushed back into the room. One of them, I don’t remember which, helped me off the toilet, and the other quickly slid a blanket under my hands and knees where I dropped onto the floor. Ironically, this blanket was the one I had specifically asked not to be on any of the birthing couches/areas because it was Riley’s blanket, and in his old dying age, he had destroyed its cleanliness with many accidents. But it was the blanket that was available. I got into a frog position facing the bathroom window and in between fast and intense contractions, I noticed Isaac place a rose quartz down on the bathtub, just in line with my eyesight. He knew what was important to me. Rachel sat on my left and Isaac on my right. Neither of them touched me, I was bearing down with all my might, and I needed to do it alone.
I pushed for probably 30 minutes and as she was crowning, Rachael said to me that soon her head would come out and it was extremely important that I did not push too fast through that part, but that I stopped and was present with the firey sensation of opening and stretching. I said okay. When it came time, she said “Okay Nya, this is the ring of fire” and I slowed my breathing and pushed with as much grace as I knew how in that moment. Slow and soft. I felt her head move through me and into the world, and to our surprise, we heard her take a breath. Isaac’s hands cupped her soft, small head and supported it there until the next contraction. Rachael instructed him on how to hold his hands and when we were all ready, I pushed one last time, and my daughter’s body flowed into her daddy’s hands.
I turned over and leaned against the bathtub, and Isaac handed Aurelia into my arms. She did not cry, she simply looked up into my eyes. I rubbed her back and felt her breathing steady, and watched her skin turn from white to pink. She was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. I thought to myself, “I can’t wait to rest”. I looked at my midwife and my partner and laughed, “This was the last place I wanted to give birth!”.
Aurelia was born with a very short umbilical cord, and I birthed the placenta within a few minutes. The placenta was big and beautiful. We carried her and her life-force organ, still connected, to the couch. Rachael supported me as I walked there, covered in blood and vernix just like my baby. Isaac introduced Aurelia to Riley and he licked her foot. Isaac and I sat on the couch and held her, and I asked him to kiss me. We were parents. She was an angel.
My daughter, Aurelia Pueo-Rise Boucher, was born with no interventions or complications, with 10 fingers and 10 toes, a full head of blonde hair, and dark blue eyes, at 9:10pm on 02/14/2021. She weighed 6 pounds 15 ounces, and was 19.5 inches long. She was our biggest blessing and our biggest teacher. I did not cry, I did not explode with emotion or praises for God. I simply held her close and examined her beauty.
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